Homo Ludens

Homo Ludens: A study of the Play Element in Culture.

The seminal sociological work by the Dutch Cultural theorist Johan Huizinga  (December 7, 1872 – February 1, 1945) describes and analyses the nature and significance of the play element in culture, a phenomenom hugely relevant to the nature of the individual experience at Burning Man festival.

“In play there is something ‘at play’ which transcends the immediate needs of life and imparts meaning to the action”

Huizinga describes the detachment and unreality of playing and the way in which it provides release from the reality of the everyday, embodied in the idea of constructing a temporary city (or playground) in the desert, in which fun, interaction and play are fundamental facets of the experience .

“The feeling of being ‘apart together’ in an exceptional situation, of sharing something important, of mutually withdrawing from the rest of the world and rejecting the usual norms, retains its magic beyond the duration of the individual game.”

The Bridges of Meghalayas

“In North-East India, the giant cliffs, lead up to a hidden word: Meghalayas. Nearly 2km high and buffeted by mansoon clouds this is possibly the wettest place on earth. Once 25 meters of rain fell here in a year, the world record. Living here poses an unusual problem and it is not just keeping dry. Nearly all the rain falls during the summer mansoon. River flows from gentle stream to raging torrent. They become wild and unpredictable and almost impossible to cross. Harli and his niece Giuliana are busy cultivating a cunning solution: 30 years ago, Harli planted this strangler fig on the river’s edge and today he is teaching Giuliana how to care for it…”

David Attenborough in the BBC Documentary How the world made us below (from the PermacultureForest Youtube Channel)  narrates the beautiful story of the live bridges of Meghalayas which is a network of living fig tree bridges, sometimes several century old, used to cross the torrents in the Mansoon season.

Above: The “double decker” bridge, in Travel the Unknown blog  

Above: Close up Photo of a fig tree bridge by Neeraj2608 

Above: Even Handrails were made with the roots, article from Inhabitat      

 Above: view of one of the bridges from dpreview



Radiolaria Pavilion

Andrea Morgante, founder of Shiro Studio, collaborated with D-Shape in 2008 to produce the Radiolaria pavilion, a free-form structure created using the world’s largest 3D printer. Measuring 3 x 3 x 3 metres, the structure is a scale model of a final 10 metre tall pavilion currently being fabricated in Pontedera, Italy. The aim of the Radiolaria pavilion was to demonstrate the capabilities of this pioneering construction technology through complex geometry. It allows free-form construction of monolithic structures on a large scale.

Ernst Haeckel’s studies on radiolarians were a source of inspiration; their evolutionary formation process of mineral and siliceous skeletons share an affinity with the way that the mega-printer operates, through the slow deposition of mineral and siliceous material, layer after layer.

The thin layers of the structure are held together by an inorganic binder, which transforms any kind of sand or marble dust into a stone-like material (i.e. a mineral with microcrystalline characteristics) with a resistance and traction superior to portland cement, to a point where there is no need to use iron to reinforce the structure.  The structure was designed using CAD/CAM software and then exported directly to the printer. Once printed, it only takes about 24 hours for the material to fully set. The process is also environmentally sound, if any of the building material remains unused, it can be recycled.

Above: Radiolaria Pavilion Printed scale model sandstone structure

Above: 3D Printer – Individual layers of sandstone being printed to form pavilion

Generative Design Work

Processing is an open source programming language and environment for people who want to create images, animations, and interactions and created by Casey Reas and Ben Fry.

It has been used  by Architect, Graphic Designers, Jewellery makers and anyone interested in Generative processes based on simple rules with a beautiful graphical and interactive output. Below are a few examples:

First lets start with the creators of “Libraries” which are like Plugins one can add to Processing in order to use pre-determined functions such as 3D viewer or Physics. One of the most famous libraries, Toxiclibs, is developed by the self-taught designer Karsten Schmidt, director of PostSpectacular.

Above: Kartsen Schmidt’s work exhibited at the V&A as part of their Cult Of Beauty aestheticism exhibition. 

N-E-R-V-O-U-S is a design studio which uses Processing to generate jewellery and furniture based on natural systems and simple laws. Thanks to an online Processing interface and Toxiclibs library, the “product” is generated according to the buyers’ wishes and then fabricated using a 3D printer. Below are images and videos of their work:

Above: Image and video of Laplacian Growth System

Above: Hele-Shaw Cell experiments with Paint and Plastic

Above: Hyphae Growth Process Diagram and Lamp Images

Biothing is an Architectural Practice led by Alisa Andrasek and Jose Sanchez, below is a project they have developed with the large scale 3D printer D-Shape based on the Turing Patterny:

Above: Turing Pavilion by Biothing using Processing   

One of the AA DRL Masters team (Thiago Mundim, Sanhita Chaturvedi and Esteban Colmenares taught by Marta Malé-Alemany,Daniel Piker & Jeroen Van Ameijde), developed a revolutionary technique to knit on a building scale:

 Above: the Knitectonics Project Interface, using Processing and the Toxiclibs Library



Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) using WinAir for Ecotect

Below is a tutorial by Mario Vergara on how to install and use Winair (this link also contains a tutorial). WinAir is a plugin to perform CFD analysis (wind flow) on a mesh using Ecotect. The video tutorial is in Spanish but very easy to follow even without sound. There are couple questions already online on the Autodesk forum about Win Air. and some work on the GH forum related to it.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/30227121]


Above: The Winair Interface on ecotect 

Above: The kind of results extracted from Winair 

 Work by Alessio Erioli using WinAir

Casting Forms and Patterns of the Terrain

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Creating the casts from Christos Antonopoulos on Vimeo.


This project from MAADM explores the way forms and patterns can be created on a sand surface from an agend. The patterns were then casted in order to extract more information.

For more information you can have a look here: http://christosantonopoulos.tumblr.com/tagged/ThesisDevelopment

Situ Solar

[top to bottom: Solar Pavillion1, 2 and 3]

Situ Studio is a New York-based design practice that engages in experimental work and material investigations and maintains a parallel operation as as a digital fabrication and design consultancy.

The Solar Pavillions are series of pavilions designed by Situ Studio that ‘explore indeterminate construction systems that are shaped by sustainable building pratices…to create a set of parts that are easy to assemble through a set of localised construction rules. The flexible structural logic allows for a wide range of configurations…Manufactured with a zero-waste mandate, these designs explore methods for producing reconfigurable temporary structures at a low cost and low environmental impact’